Is she lying about rape? Just check out her pay stub.

This comment, left in response to my post about rape and power, ruined my morning:

I don’t know what kind of women Marsalis targeted, though as the Duke non-rape case shows, there are good reason to be skeptical about women’s testismonies when low-class women are involved.

There’s so much going on with that comment that I don’t even really know where to begin. However, it’s certainly a nice insight into how the minds of rapists and rape apologists function. Rapists often target victims they perceive as vulnerable — whether those victims are physically vulnerable because they’re drunk or disabled or small, or because they’re part of a vulnerable social class. Sex workers are unlikely to be believed when they report rape, and so sex workers are often targeted. Elderly people and children are targeted for sexual abuse because they’re physically weaker. Rapists target women who appear to be drunk (or they get them drunk) because they realize that it puts their victim in a more vulnerable state, and because they realize that drunkenness will make her less credible later.

Rapists also target the socially vulnerable. During the Kobe Bryant rape case, I heard over and over, “Why would he rape her? He could have sex with anyone he wanted.” The underlying idea is that rapists rape out of uncontrollable sexual desire, and that men who are able to get sex elsewhere don’t need to rape; the corollary argument is that men only rape women they find sexually attractive.

That all ties in with the “low-class” argument. The idea behind it is that low-class women are undesirable, and since rape is a crime of desire, they’re virtually exempt from it. The other idea behind it is the long-standing tie between class and sexual availability. Terms like “trashy” and “classy” have thinly-veiled sexual elements behind them. Public presence has long been tied to sexual availability in women, and it’s always been lower-income women who occupied public space out of necessity, unlike their “classier” wealthier counterparts. The assumption is that low-class women are available for sexual gratification, and that they actively seek out sex — and if you’re a higher-class man, they’ll use their sexual wiles to trap you. They might cry rape. They might steal your semen and impregnate themselves. They might do all kinds of sneaky evil things that “low-class” women do. And so when a low-class woman reports a rape, we should be automatically skeptical, since women of color and po’ white trash are known liars and reckless sluts.

High-class women, on the other hand, aren’t as likely to lie about rape because they have less to gain. Especially if they’re raped by a “low-class” or brown man. That’s evidence in and of itself that they couldn’t possibly have consented, right?

Except, of course, when real life kicks in and even those lily-white high-class ladies have their reputations torn apart for having the audacity to get themselves raped.

In the meantime, the message is that “low-class” women need to suck it up and be grateful that any man would look at them in the first place.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Sexual Assault and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Is she lying about rape? Just check out her pay stub.

  1. Roy says:

    In the meantime, the message is that “low-class” women need to suck it up and be grateful that any man would look at them in the first place.

    Wasn’t there a case in the UK where that was essentially the entire defense? The argument was that the victim was fat, and so she should have been happy that anyone wanted to “have sex with her.”

    I think that there’s a double-edged sword here, too: low-class women or women that don’t meet stereotypical beauty standards should be grateful for the attention, but women who are upper-class or stereotypically attractive catch criticism for not wanting to sleep with men that are “below them.” For some people, the idea seems to be that their getting raped is a product of thinking that they’re better than men.

  2. abyss2hope says:

    I think “good reason to be skeptical” is really code for “please don’t take her report seriously and don’t competently and ethically investigate her claim and don’t judge all the evidence without prejudice.” If that happens all those boys and men who tell themselves, “it wasn’t really rape because she’s a low-class woman” will start getting nervous.

  3. Eileen says:

    Roy,

    Yes, here’s a link to that story:
    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=49517&in_page_id=34

    What I increasingly see is an argument being forwarded on many different fronts that, for the most part, women don’t have the right to control their own bodies at all ever. We should be available to men at all times, grateful if men will have anything to do with us, and if we are misused the crime is committed against the male who can claim some kind of ownership. That’s what I’m getting.

  4. SoE says:

    That commenter just showed that s/he had obviously missed to read the article because in one of the first sentences was mentioned that the victims were mostly college-educated and well off. Not that this meant to anybody that their testimonies were a bit more reliable as those from “low-class women”.

    Reminds me of the line that only 13-year-olds being sodomized were “real victims” -.-

  5. SoE says:

    Yep, third sentence:

    10 women, all of them college-educated, sophisticated, successful, good-looking and white

  6. Lengara says:

    It is interesting to me that this person mentions the Duke Lacrosse case. That seems to be the underlying current in at least one or two comments I read when a rape has been perpetrated. It all comes back to “Maybe she is lying! Remember Duke Lacrosse?!” I think that particular case has done more to cast doubt in most peoples mind when a woman comes out saying she was raped then anything in recent history.

    For instance, Penn State football player Austin Scott was recently accused of rape by a young woman who he met in a bar. All of the comments you read on the incident come back to two things:

    1)

    “Why would he rape her? He could have sex with anyone he wanted.”

    As you mentioned for the Kobe Bryant case. Which falls perfectly into your rape and class argument. “Why would he do that? He is heading for the NFL!”

    2) “DUKE LACROSSE!! REMEMBER DUKE LACROSSE!!! The BITCH/CUNT/WHORE is LYING!!!

    What do you think that the impact of Duke Lacrosse will be on future rape cases? Whether they involve athletes (such as my example did) or not; such as in the case of the person who left that comment that inspired this post…

  7. Redstar says:

    This is a really terrific post. You distilled the issues really well.

    I’m new to Feministe and plan to keep coming back!

  8. ohsohappy says:

    Lengara beat me to it. I would also add this.

    Yes, I am sure some people have lied about being raped, for whatever reason, and probably even about who raped them. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility; after all, some people do lie. BUT: I am pretty sick of hearing the Duke case trotted out everytime a woman says she was raped. IIRC, the woman was raped, just not by the people the prosceutor was in a rush to accuse.
    One data point does not make a trend. If someone can point me to the hundreds of rape accusations where she was lying, and no rape occurred, to combat the hundreds of rape accusations where a rape in fact occurred, then maybe I’ll believe that there’s a rash of false rape charges being filed. Until that happens, then the Duke case remains an anomaly, just a very high profile anomaly.

  9. Eff Jay Em Vee says:

    For the record, women do lie about rape. It was a problem before and will continue to be a problem long after the Duke LaX sham.

    It’s been extensively studied by neutral parties and they put the number at between 1/3 and 1/10 rape claims are 100% false.

    …made up for revenge, resentment, anger, etc. This squares nicely with what I’ve been told by a female high school classmate of mine now working in a DA’s office as well, but if you don’t believe me just google it. Curiously, upper-class women were found more likely to bring false charges.

  10. Eff Jay Em Vee says:

    forgot a link:

    http://www.salon.com/news/1999/03/cov_10news.html

    but there are many more

  11. Roy says:

    Yes, I am sure some people have lied about being raped, for whatever reason, and probably even about who raped them. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility; after all, some people do lie. BUT: I am pretty sick of hearing the Duke case trotted out everytime a woman says she was raped. IIRC, the woman was raped, just not by the people the prosceutor was in a rush to accuse.

    And even if she wasn’t:

    1. There’s no evidence that people lie about being raped at particularly high levels- certainly no more than people lie about any other crime- which makes focusing on the myth of the revenge accusation a red herring.
    2. The men accused in the Duke Case aren’t serving jail time for a crime they didn’t commit. In fact, they aren’t serving any time for the crimes that they may have commited because of the fallout from the accusation.

  12. norbizness says:

    I’m all for trotting out Duke Lacrosse every time a prosecutor tries to try a case in public, but not for chilling the accusation itself from the victim, not that I have any confidence that will happen. At least Susan Faludi will have a Backlash II book tailor-made for her as a result of that phenomenon.

  13. Micky says:

    And even if she wasn’t:

    1. There’s no evidence that people lie about being raped at particularly high levels- certainly no more than people lie about any other crime- which makes focusing on the myth of the revenge accusation a red herring.
    2. The men accused in the Duke Case aren’t serving jail time for a crime they didn’t commit. In fact, they aren’t serving any time for the crimes that they may have commited because of the fallout from the accusation.

    But they might have been if they didn’t have the millions of dollars to spend defending themselves. And could even be castrated if the feminists at Duke had their way.

  14. Jade says:

    Ohsohappy: I agree with you. However, the rape apologists will be waving the Duke banner for a long time to come. “See? Women lie! Especially minorities!” I fear that any rape case that catches the media’s attention for even a second is going to bring up the tired arguments of the Duke case. As you said, one data point does not make a trend, but one blip is enough to start a feeding frenzy. It’s so very sickening.

    I am so weary of hearing how women are only ever in it for the money. If we aren’t lying about rape, we’re lying about the paternity of our children. (“Gold Digger” anyone?) We do it all for money and to “trap” men.

  15. zuzu says:

    The topic is the way women are viewed, not the Duke lacrosse players.

    Topic, everyone.

  16. Kai says:

    Micky, are you here to contribute anything to the conversation, or just to share your castration anxiety with the class?

  17. ohsohappy says:

    Sorry to derail. It’s one of those topics for me that gets my dander up everytime someone points to it as an example. It’s a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

    I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled, on topic posting now.

  18. alsojill says:

    Penn State football player Austin Scott was recently accused of rape by a young woman who he met in a bar

    Actually, they knew each other before they met that evening–they had met *up* in a bar. And he began to rape her while she slept in his bed, after having told him repeatedly that she was not going to have sex with him OR hook up with him.

    This: “Why would he rape her? He could have sex with anyone he wanted.” is the perfect example of why women “must be lying” in rape accusations. Because anyone would have sex with him, right? So this woman must have wanted sex with him–all women do, after all–so he could not have raped her.

    Never mind that the idea that certain kinds of men can have sex with whomever they want is PRECISELY the idea that leads to rape. They can have sex with whomever they want regardless of what the other individual wants. And I think this is one reason why it’s so easy to target lower-class or minority women. As zuzu intimated, those women, of all people, should the “most” likely, the most “grateful” to have sex with a “heroic” kind of guy who can get “any girl he wants.”

    It’s so fucked up. I can’t even deal with it. And I am 100% positive Austin Scott will get off (no pun), not just b/c of the aforementioned mentality, but b/c he has hired the sleaziest defense atty in the area to defend him, and that atty has argued that since the victim did not give a direct “no” after Scott began having sex with her, that she must therefore have consented. Never mind that she was ASLEEP when he “initiated sex.”

  19. alsojill says:

    As zuzu intimated

    Oops. Sorry, Jill. Didn’t realize this was your post.

  20. buggle says:

    I can’t deal with it either, alsojill. It truly is so sickening, it just makes me want to puke my guts out all over the place.

  21. Great comments, Jill, as usual.

    They might steal your semen and impregnate themselves. They might do all kinds of sneaky evil things that “low-class” women do.

    That’s exactly how they sound! As if men are without any will or accountability AT ALL.

    Kudos for nailing that.

  22. meggygurl says:

    In high school a girl got raped at the school and the only thing anyone ever said was “she was ugly, why would he have raped her?”

    I never heard anyone say “He was ugly, why would she have slept with him willingly?”

  23. Micky says:

    Kai, Are you here to contribute anything to the discussion, or just to make snarky putdowns?

  24. Mnemosyne says:

    Heh. The troll is cracking me up. “But why won’t anyone let me derail the thread? Why are you being so mmmmeeeaaaannnn to me! I’m going to tell my mommy that you’re not doing what I want! Waaaaahhhhh!”

  25. Kai says:

    Micky, I’m sorry if you somehow felt that your comment (that the poor, victimized Duke Lacrosse players represent some sort of Everyman who could be screwed at any moment by any of the rampant false accusations that unscrupulous, trashy women make against men every day — in the middle of a discussion of how some men are trying to use the Duke Lacrosse case to prove that many women who cry rape are lying bitches) deserved a serious response. But it didn’t. So yes, it seems that I am just here to make snarky putdowns.

  26. Entomologista says:

    I never heard anyone say “He was ugly, why would she have slept with him willingly?”

    I love it. What a wonderful way to put things into perspective :)

  27. meggygurl says:

    I never heard anyone say “He was ugly, why would she have slept with him willingly?”

    I love it. What a wonderful way to put things into perspective :)

    I like to keep it real. And that bothered me, even at that age. She was hated in our school after that… and the guy wasn’t even anyone “important” (as important as high schoolers can be to each other).

    I wouldn’t have slept with him and I was kinda a girl with loser values. :)

  28. meggygurl says:

    I love it. What a wonderful way to put things into perspective :)

    I like to keep it real. And that bothered me, even at that age. She was hated in our school after that… and the guy wasn’t even anyone “important” (as important as high schoolers can be to each other).

    I wouldn’t have slept with him and I was kinda a girl with loser values. :)

    **Sorry, I messed up the quotes in the last one. No quotes in quotes.**

  29. Hector B. says:

    “Why would he rape her? He could have sex with anyone he wanted.”

    This can be taken a variety of reprehensible ways, including:
    [Famous Sports Star] justifiably believes he’s entitled to penetrate any woman he chooses.
    The victim should feel honored that FSS shoved his penis in her vagina.
    But the obvious answer to the question: He can’t dominate and degrade a woman who’s in a position (financial, social, etc.) to resist.

  30. Kai says:

    By means of a legitimate, non-troll-baiting reply, I have to add that your final comments are especially stinging (in the “truth hurts” kind of way) – as anyone who’s ever frequented any message board or forum can attest. I think we’ve all seen at least one comment to the effect of “I hope some guy takes pity on you and rapes you, ’cause it’s the only way you’ll ever get laid.” I’m starting to think that the male desire to trivialize rapes also, at least for some men, stems from a genuine, mind-numbing ignorance. Apparently some people really do think that rape is “just sex,” at worst “sex you didn’t want/know you wanted.”

    Another feminist blog (Selective & Arbitrary) covered this one already, but the whole thing reminded me of this post from fanficrants: http://community.livejournal.com/fanficrants/5453012.html. In short, the reviewer thinks that if a girl uses tampons, rape doesn’t hurt “that much.” So, logically then, rape only hurts virgins. A nice hat-tip to the terrifying old legal way of thinking (though recent cases have demonstrated maybe it’s not that old). And of course the point that’s completely overlooked by everyone commenting on that issue is “Why the hell do so many fanfics feature rape scenes, anyway?”

    I have to confess I’ve read a few romance novels in my time, but that’s only made me more leery of the genre – too many of them include blushing virgins for whom “No!” really means “Yes!” and rape is completely excusable because hey, the guy was REALLY HOT, so even if she HATED him, of course some part of her really did want him to just throw her on a bed and take her. Because all women secretly want to be taken by force, obviously. It kind of sickens me that that sort of thinking is prevalent even in a genre penned by and written for a largely female base. But it’s just further proof of the prevalence of the “if they guy’s a stud, how can it possibly be rape?” mentality.

  31. meggygurl says:

    And of course the point that’s completely overlooked by everyone commenting on that issue is “Why the hell do so many fanfics feature rape scenes, anyway?”

    As someone who has a habit of reading the darker side of fanfic, the big taboos that can now get you banned on LJ, I feel the need to explain a little.

    I think rape is a horrible crime. Never is there an excuse for it, and never is it a woman’s fault. I never believe she was asking for it or wanted it. I am not, in any way turned on by it. I find it sick. As I find incest sick. And yet I have read, and read both.

    Why? Because the dark sides of humanity interest me. I want to see what logic the writer will give the guy, the reaction the girl will have. It all makes the psychology major in me geeky.

    I would love one day to read fic where said girl gets raped and is given justice, whether it be legal in the land of real law like Veronica Mars, or supernatural, like in Buffy or Harry Potter. Because as horrible and dark as it is, it exists, and if fanfiction is suppose to be a reflection, or even a comment on society, that has to be commented on too.

    I think I may have gotten off topic… sorry. I’m a big nerd.

  32. alsojill says:

    Slightly OT post here, but…

    Meggy–I avoid rape fic like the plague, but at the same time, I think you have a point about how rapefic (and other kinds of darkfic) can function. And while there are certain kinds of darkfic that seem to me to be nothing more than an attempt to get off on degrading some one in a vulnerable position, I’m an avid smut reader, and I see some of that same kind of think in certain (non-dark) smut fics.

    In defense of romance novels, I would like to send everyone here to Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels, a wonderful site for intelligent, feminist women to discuss their love of romance novels and the issues surrounding those novels. (For the record, the rape-romance has been passe for years, and is just now making a disturbing comeback.)

  33. tigtog says:

    In short, the reviewer thinks that if a girl uses tampons, rape doesn’t hurt “that much.” So, logically then, rape only hurts virgins. A nice hat-tip to the terrifying old legal way of thinking (though recent cases have demonstrated maybe it’s not that old).

    Obviously someone who’s never compared a tampon to a penis, nor the lubrication of menstrual fluid to a non-menstruating and non-sexually-stimulated vaginal canal.

    Novelist Sheri S. Tepper once had an elder sister protagonist who explained the difference between rape and sex to a younger brother who had been hanging around with sniggering teens propagating the “they all want it really” view. In it she pointed out that liking chocolate cake is not the same thing as liking to have chocolate cake shoved down your throat with a stick no matter how much you say no, or resist, or are in danger of choking and the cake just keeps on getting shoved down your mouth; and that it’s made infinitely worse if people dismiss your complaints with “oh, but it can’t have been that bad: you love chocolate cake!”.

  34. meggygurl says:

    In it she pointed out that liking chocolate cake is not the same thing as liking to have chocolate cake shoved down your throat with a stick no matter how much you say no, or resist, or are in danger of choking and the cake just keeps on getting shoved down your mouth; and that it’s made infinitely worse if people dismiss your complaints with “oh, but it can’t have been that bad: you love chocolate cake!”.

    That metatphor is genius. I think that needs to go on my facebook.

  35. Novelist Sheri S. Tepper once had an elder sister protagonist who explained the difference between rape and sex to a younger brother who had been hanging around with sniggering teens propagating the “they all want it really” view. In it she pointed out that liking chocolate cake is not the same thing as liking to have chocolate cake shoved down your throat with a stick no matter how much you say no, or resist, or are in danger of choking and the cake just keeps on getting shoved down your mouth; and that it’s made infinitely worse if people dismiss your complaints with “oh, but it can’t have been that bad: you love chocolate cake!”.

    Thanks for this! I am going to use it next time I hear that stuff (uncomfortably often)…

  36. micheyd says:

    That’s a great analogy, tigtog!

    My favorite is from a professor at Cornell (can’t remember her name, gah!) who said that “of course rape is not the same as sex! If I hit you over the head with a rolling pin, do you call it cooking?”

  37. Mickle says:

    Yes, the cake metaphor is a good one. And great minds think alike. :) I know I’ve used that one before myself, although probably not as well put as Tepper’s.

    Part of why it’s nice is because it really makes it about consent and all the fact that decisions are based on more than just what you want to do. There could be all kinds of reasons why you like chocolate cake, but just don’t want to eat that one, or eat cake right now, or can’t eat cake for health reasons, whatever. So even when it’s not shoved down violently, forcing someone to eat cake when they didn’t say “yes” is just wrong.

  38. libber says:

    This is a great post. On a related note, I have found that if you do well on the job or at school, guys will automatically suspect that you must have had sex with the boss/the teacher or at least have used the fact that you are female to get to where you are. And in my experience it is not uncommon that employers and teachers will try to exploit you in these ways (e.g., by explicitly offering sex, sending you erotic letters, etc.) And when you refuse to go along, others who don’t are favored.

  39. the15th says:

    I think this post is somewhat unnecessarily divisive. Someone in the special moderation queue may have said that less affluent women are likely to lie about rape. But for every one of him, there’s someone sneering at “entitled,” “sheltered,” “spoiled” victims like Natalee Holloway or Imette St. Guillen. As you point out, “those lily-white high-class ladies have their reputations torn apart for having the audacity to get themselves raped” — and their reputations are torn apart by the exact same rape apologists who were just arguing that “low-class” women are liars. The classism, or reverse classism, whichever it happens to be, is just a vehicle for their misogyny.

  40. Joel says:

    The idea goes a bit beyond whether low-class women can’t be trusted. It suggests that anyone who is a member of our more impoverished classes cannot be trusted. Lower-class women get the double-whammy.

  41. Jill says:

    The classism, or reverse classism, whichever it happens to be, is just a vehicle for their misogyny.

    Right. That’s the point. None of us win.

  42. Charlotte says:

    Coming from a European perspective, I am drawn to connecting the classist intimations of this debate to the legal/ economic culture in the US. If it weren’t as easy to sue someone here (or if lawsuits were more affordable for all social strata), how do you think this would impact the vulnerable woman = easy target paradigm?

  43. Pingback: Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2007-10-17

  44. Pingback: Caek. :: Xtinian Thoughts

  45. Pingback: “He Could Have Sex With Anybody He Wanted.” - The Sexist - Washington City Paper

Comments are closed.